Promises and Prospects
Edited by Philip Taylor
Chapter 1: Looking Forward to Working Longer in Australia
Sol Encel OLDER WORKERS IN PROFILE The ageing of the labour force has been the subject of an almost unbroken series of oﬃcial, semi-oﬃcial and academic reports since 1990, although its implications had attracted attention considerably earlier. In 1958, a seminar on mental health in the city of Melbourne was addressed by the executive director of the Victorian Employers’ Federation, Mr S.M. Gilmour, who declared that ‘men and women should be encouraged and enabled to work part or full time for so long as they are able and willing to do so’. He was supported by the secretary of the Trades Hall Council, who advocated a national approach to later life employment which would mean that ‘age will become less a matter of any given time for retirement and more a matter of right and desire to either work or retire’ (Stoller, 1960: 55, 64). Some years later, the abolition of compulsory retirement was advocated by the economist Ronald Henderson in a national report on poverty. Henderson noted the connections between age, poverty and unemployment (Henderson, 1976). An attempt to outlaw age discrimination was made in the following year by the New South Wales state government, but was defeated in the upper house of the state parliament. During the 1990s, however, both age discrimination and compulsory retirement were outlawed in all states, in the two territories (Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory), and by Federal legislation in 2004 (Encel, 2001, 2004). Age discrimination, longterm unemployment and enforced early...
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